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eBay, please don’t speak for me

Filed in: design, vent, Web, Mon, Jul 28 2008 09:06 PT

I just had a horrible experience with eBay, which I think is summed up in this message I just sent to them.

I have a serious complaint with the way eBay sends automated messages. I was forwarded a message sent from eBay to the seller, which reads:

“I would like to have the item shipped to the address below:”
…followed by the shipping address in my eBay account.

However, I had never asked eBay to give that address as the shipping address, and in fact, the payment info I sent on PayPal had the correct address. As a result, the seller shipped the package, then went out of her way to return to the post office to change the shipping address from the _right_ one to the _wrong_ one–all because eBay says I told her to. And now the package will be delayed by a full week, and arrive at my home, where no one will be present to pick it up.

I hold eBay and its email notification system responsible for this.

eBay should never, under any circumstances, misrepresent its users by making statements beginning with the word “I”. You do not speak authoritatively on behalf of your users. I’m a designer and I understand the urge to sound human, but in this case, and I’m sure many others, you are doing more harm than good. I am extremely displeased that my package will be late, but even more upset that eBay sees fit to substitute its words for mine.

The same goes for any other e-commerce outfit out there. I know it sounds all down-home folksy to say things like “I would like to have the item shipped…” instead of “The buyer’s address is…”, but you don’t know what I want. You only know what your user tells you. And you should never communicate more than that.

One Response to “eBay, please don’t speak for me”

  1. FatherOfAsh says:

    This bit me in the backside just this past month when I ordered something out of China. Knowing it would be awhile before it showed up I didn’t pay as much attention to tracking as I might normally, but when it seemed like it should have showed up I checked and found that the post office had failed to deliver it several times, TO MY OLD ADDRESS. Between Ebay deciding to tell people where to send things for me and the P.O.’s failure to handle my change of address as it should, I get to be the chump.

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